David Zurawik

Olbermann v. Gore: Either way, Keith's a loser

We had a spirited discussion Sunday on CNN's  "Reliable Sources" about Keith Olbermann's suit against Al Gore's Current TV.

The video is at the end of this post, and I urge you to take a look especially at what Sharon Waxman, founder of TheWrap, has to say about Olbermann having played his games maybe once too often.


Here's something Olbermann should perhaps be even more worried about: the fact that to win his suit he is going to have to trash a liberal icon in Gore. And how are Olbermann's liberal fans (however many might be left) going to feel about that?

Olbermann told David Letterman last week he hadn't "thought through" his move to Current TV before making it. What a shock for someone who behaves like an out-of-control adolescent.


But here's something else I bet Olbermann didn't think through: The place Gore holds in one of the central narratives of 21st Century American liberal ideology.

Simply put, the narrative contends, most of the evils of 21st Century American life can be traced to the century's original sin of Goeoge W. Bush and Karl Rove "stealing" the presidency from Gore with the recount in Florida in 2000.

I don't know how many academic and media colleagues have said to me at one time or another some version of, "Can you imagine having the presidency stolen from you that way? How can you not admire Gore and the incredible strength he showed in going on and not tearing the country apart?"

Gore is more than an icon, he's a martyr in this narrative, which usually ends with the speaker saying there would have been no Iraq and no free pass for Wall Street to take the economy to the brink if Gore had been in the Oval Office instead of the  clueless and corrupt Bush.

And this is the guy Olbermann, whose base of suppport is hardcore liberal, has to attack to win his suit. He has to say Gore is a bad guy, which is going to cause some real cognitive dissonance in liberal noggins.

Good luck, Keith.

That's why I say Olbermann loses even if he wins.

Olbermann has already called Gore a "dilettante" in his lawsuit.


As a media owner, Gore is a loser -- no doubt about it. I said that long before he even made the deadly mistake of hiring Olbermann. (I predicted Olbermann would come nowhere near drawing the million or so viewers he did nightly on MSNBC -- and he wound up being seen by only about 177,000 a night on Current. Meanwhile, Lawrence O'Donnell is drawing almost the same audience Olbermann did on MSNBC. Lawrence O'Donnell!)

But, on the other hand, I would say Gore's stint covering the war in Vietnam for an Army publication makes him far more of a journalist than Olbermann ever was or will be, despite all the ex-show-host's cartoon attempts to dress and act like he thinks legendary CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow did. Olbermann has zero journalistic credentials, and he showed how ill-equipped he is to lead any kind of editorial or news operation in his short and sad time at Current.

Anyway, here's the video. What do you think about Olbermann trashing Gore? Enjoy.